How to be Humble (& Why Humility Makes You Happier)

Feb 9, 2024

A Humble Happiness

No-one likes big heads who brag about themselves, put down others or generally throw their weight around. 

I guess, like me, you’re not a massive fan of people who exude the type of in-your-face over-confidence you see on so many reality shows, either.

But it’s everywhere right now – an ever-expanding promotion of the ego fuelled by the media who relentlessly encourage us to celebrate ourselves and promote our views at every opportunity; the idea that “if it feels good, do it.”

Telling people to celebrate who they are — faults and all — and just do whatever makes them happy, regardless of others peoples feelings, is an irresponsible and dangerous message.

Encouraging them to mindlessly make lots of noise about their views without any degree of critical analysis or reflection on themselves or their ideas isn’t great either.

It’s certainly not going to help make people happy in the long run.

Instead, it’s setting them up for a future filled with insecurities, confusion, frustration and anger.

As a result of this type of thinking and behaviour, society becomes more separated than connected.

And that’s not good for anyone. . .

So, what’s the antidote to this kind of madness? Well, the fact you’ve read the title of this post means you already know: it’s the practice of being humble.

Today we’ll dip our little toes into the calming waters of humility and discover how and why embracing a humble mindset can be the key to creating a foundation of authentic strength and fulfilment (in a world that loves to glorify the opposite). 

oak tree

Humble Beginnings

First off, let’s define ‘humility’, just so we’re on the same page.

The Cambridge Dictionary explains it as being: “the feeling or attitude that you have no special importance that makes you better than others; lack of pride.”

Sounds about right to me.

C.S. Lewis also put it in a neat little nutshell when he said:

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

As I’ve already mentioned, this type of trait or attitude, goes against so much of what we’re told today about how to view ourselves and how we should act. 

It’s especially true for the younger generation who are bombarded with calls to celebrate themselves for almost any reason and make noise at every opportunity.

In a world filled with so much arrogance and insecurity — with so many influencers, idols and opinions — I’d say that being humble is like a much needed breath of fresh air. 

Ego & The Oak Tree

The in-your-face over-confidence and lack of regard for other people’s feelings or perspectives is usually sold as a sign of strength — but it’s completely the opposite.

Being humble means finding that sweet spot between confidence and modesty.

It’s a mindset within which we reduce the importance and influence of the ego. 

It’s a mental space where we value the ‘WE’ over the ‘I’.

If cultivated well, humility acts like an enriching soil that can support the growth of a beautiful oak tree, one that can flourish by spreading its roots deep into the earth. 

And it’s the same with the mind:

Without the foundation of humility, whatever is planted there is shallow and weak, and can be easily swept away by the lightest of winds.

Baby Steps. . .

So, how do we start nurturing the soil? How do we begin reducing the ego and replacing it with humility?

The first thing to do is become more self-aware and more grateful

You can start with an acknowledgement of what you currently have in this life and what you’ve been given.

For example, so much of what you have today is because of what people have given you, one way or another, in the past. 

Your parents are the most obvious example. 

After all, as a baby you needed assistance in everything — and yes, I do mean EVERYTHING! — from the very moment you were born. 

There was literally NOTHING you could do by yourself (except cry and a couple of other things we won’t talk about. . .), so you had to rely on the kindness of others, mainly parents, just to survive.

And the support we receive doesn’t fade as we grow older. 

We continue to receive help and kindness from others throughout our entire lives, until our very last day on earth.

Until we can feel a sense of genuine gratitude (or at least respect and consideration) for everyone else, we can’t make real progress on the path to humility.

Why not?

Because at the heart of humility is the highly undervalued act of thinking more about others than ourselves.

A Lesson in Humility: The Story of Manat                             

In the heart of the bustling industrial complex in Samutprakarn, on the outskirts of Bangkok, there was a young engineer named Manat. 

His technical prowess was unmatched, but what truly set him apart was his humility and genuine consideration for others.

Manat’s day always began with a warm smile and a traditional Thai greeting, a “wai,” extended to everyone he encountered. 

Among those he greeted was Somchai, the security guard. In a place where some engineers looked down upon the security personnel, Manat treated Somchai with the same respect he afforded his peers.

Somchai, accustomed to being ignored by most, appreciated Manat’s gestures. 

They exchanged smiles and greetings every morning, creating a subtle but authentic bond. 

What made Manat truly exceptional was his habit of asking about Somchai’s well-being, inquiring about his family, and, during special occasions, showing genuine interest in Somchai’s plans. 

In a sea of indifference, Manat’s kindness stood out.

Then came that fateful Friday evening, the eve of the Songkran holiday.

Like all the employees, Somchai was desperately excited to clock off and jump on a bus upcountry to see his family. 

But as the factory emptied out, and colleagues dispersed to celebrate the festivities, Manat was conspicuously absent. 

Somchai knew without doubt that Manat never left the factory without saying goodbye. 

He knew that something was wrong.

Despite the fact his bus was due to leave within the hour, Somchai took it upon himself to investigate. 

He scoured the vast factory, searching every nook and cranny until he stumbled upon a chilling discovery: Manat was locked inside an industrial freezer, unconscious and fighting for his life.

Somchai’s heart raced as he acted swiftly, dragging Manat out of the ice-cold chamber. 

He wrapped his own jacket around the unresponsive engineer, all the while calling for an ambulance. 

In those crucial moments, Somchai’s actions became a lifeline for Manat, who was teetering on the brink.

As the ambulance rushed Manat to safety, Somchai remained steadfast by his side.

The bond forged through daily smiles and respectful greetings had transformed into true companionship.

Manat survived the ordeal.

Not only is that a testament to his resilience but also to the compassion of a security guard who, like Manat, saw beyond job titles and social hierarchies.

This story is a powerful lesson in the power of humility and the profound impact of genuine human connection.

Admittedly, it’s a slightly extreme example (!) but it makes the point:

Humility is a quality that enriches ALL our lives. 

It elevates us and has the potential to elevate those around us to greater heights, too. 

7 Habits of Humble People That YOU Can Practice Today

Learning how to be more humble isn’t rocket science. 

Here are a few down-to-earth habits that you can start cultivating in your daily life: 

Humble people understand the importance of being receptive to others’ perspectives

Practice active listening and acknowledge the viewpoints of those around you

Enter into any conversation with the idea that the other person might have something of value to share

Remember, even if it’s difficult, be willing to listen, especially when it challenges your own beliefs. 

Humble people don’t feel the need to have all the answers.

Instead, they actively seek help and guidance

Whether it’s in your personal or professional life, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or assistance. 

This acknowledgment that you don’t know everything is a sign of strength, not weakness. 

It also opens up opportunities to learn, illuminates the path of least arrogance, and helps you gain a more comprehensive understanding.

A truly humble person understands the importance of forgiveness

Practice being gracious and quick in forgiving others, even when you feel taken advantage of. 

Holding onto resentment creates a false sense of pride and prevents personal growth.

By forgiving and letting go, you free yourself from the weight of negativity, creating opportunities for learning and becoming more considerate. 

If someone has done you wrong, that’s their issue, not yours — unless you choose to make it so.

Humility looks like gratitude. 

Expressing gratitude sincerely not only shows humility but also strengthens your

relationships. 

A humble will recognize the contributions of others and is always willing to learn from them. 

In your pursuit of career success, remember that acknowledging and appreciating the efforts of those around you is also a great leadership quality.

Humble people don’t try to avoid admitting mistakes

Instead, they recognize that everyone is fallible. 

When you’re wrong, have the humility to apologize sincerely – and do it quickly

This willingness to admit faults and seek reconciliation not only strengthens relationships but also demonstrates a commitment to personal growth. 

It also helps to diminish the ego.

Humble people understand that there is always more to learn.

Instead of assuming you know everything, be present in the moment and embrace opportunities for learning new things. 

Embrace the joy of not knowing

Part of being humble means being considerate of others and of how your actions and words affect those around you. 

That involves a certain degree of mindfulness and, more often that not, the ability to listen rather than speak. 

A humble person understands that true success is not just about getting ahead personally but also about uplifting and helping others along the way.

Humble Takeaways

Being humble doesn’t mean you’re soft, meek or subservient; it’s perfectly possible to be confident and humble, too. 

Stand tall in your humility, knowing that it’s not a sign of weakness but a powerful force that propels us all toward greater understanding, compassion, and collective achievement.

And – of course – HAPPINESS!

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